Three decades ago, world famous haircare brand John Frieda opened its first salon on New Cavendish Street, which was shortly followed by a second on Aldford Street, in the heart of Mayfair. With no sign on the door and no visible branding, it gives off an air of exclusivity reserved for this part of town.
As I walked in, I was greeted by the gentle murmur of ladies (presumably locals at 1pm on a Wednesday), the camaraderie of the hairdressers rubbing off on their clientele and everyone smiling at their neighbours.
I was warmly welcomed and taken straight to meet Andreas, a senior stylist who moved over from Germany fifteen years ago. After a few introductions came the moment every indecisive girl with flat, thin, lacklustre hair dreads: ‘So, what do you want to do?’
‘Um, uh, maybe just cut it all off? …Or keep it long… Or, uh, whatever you think..?’ I reeled off, as ever imploring the hairdresser to tell me what I want, yet knowing it was an impossible demand. But then something wholly unexpected happened. Andreas squinted his eyes, started playing with my hair, delicately throwing it around, and said, ‘Right. Well, I think if you keep it straight, you should do it like zissss. Keep the length but with bangs, not just little ones. Thick bangs so they don’t just wisp. Or you cut it all off. But you don’t just cut it to there, you do it up here, otherwise it is pointless. I think it will be cute. You should do it.’
In shock that a hairdresser had actually taken control of my hair decisions so decisively, and comforted by his sincerity and confidence, I let him loose.
Along with witty asides from the charming lady sitting beside me, Andreas kept me entertained (and—as I suspect was the aim—happily distracted) throughout my haircut, regaling me with entertaining stories from his experiences styling celebrities. And at the end, ten inches shorter than I came in, I was delighted, not least with the fact that he avoided slathering my hair in product.
The advice didn’t end with the cut either: I was told countless styles and ways to do my new hair, something that has come in very useful upon the realisation that you can actually do much more with short hair than you can with long.
As promised by the charming Andreas, never have I experienced such a reaction to a hair cut. Normally after much flicking and swishing, I end up practically having to wave my receipt in people’s faces to get any kind of acknowledgement. But this time everyone, from friends I haven’t seen in a while to the cleaners at work (yes, really), excitedly commented on the change. My hair is in the best condition it has been since I can remember and I haven’t had one piece of negative feedback, with many commenting that of all short styles, this seemed the one most flattering to my face shape and the ideal choice.
Many beauty experiences claim to make you feel special. I, for one, have always been of the camp that if something can be done for £30, there is very little point in spending £100 on it, especially when—as has happened in the past—I have seen very little material difference.
However, on this occasion I am not ashamed to say that this will not be a one-time treat. I will be back—I have found the elusive hairdresser who isn’t reluctant to tell me what to do and he is worth every extra penny, as was the entire experience: from the lack of pretence and relaxed environment to the expertise of someone who knows what suits people, and more importantly, what they want better than even they do.